McDonald’s worker fraudulently claimed £28k in disability benefits

Paulette Windridge received the money over 11 years while working at McDonald’s in Worcester Road, Kidderminster, as a ‘lobby hostess.’

The 63-year-old suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and first started claiming disability benefits in 1996.

But by the time she started working at the fast-food restaurant in 2004 her mobility had greatly improved thanks to medication.

Windridge, however, failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about the improvement and continued to pocket Disability Living Allowance until 2015.

She denied the fraud – which totalled £28,695 – but was convicted following a trial earlier this month.

And on Thursday she was handed a 26-week suspended jail sentence by magistrates in Kidderminster.

Mr Terence Gibbons, chair of the magistrate’s bench, said she must carry out 150 hours unpaid work, pay £635 in prosecution costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

She remains working at McDonald’s full-time.

Prosecutor, Mr Mark Johnson, had told the hearing Windridge, of Usmere Road, Kidderminster, first claimed her disability benefits on the grounds she had a “severe mobility problem” and could barely walk, requiring a stick to walk around her home.

He added by the time she started working at McDonald’s that was no longer the case.

“On her job application form she declared her disability but said it would have no impact on her work,” he said.

“That appears to have been the case. The description from two more senior people from McDonald’s said the duties of a lobby hostess are fairly vigorous. They include standing to serve customers, picking up litter from tables and from outside, even cleaning windows, although there is no indication she did.

“The job description even said the role could involve climbing ladders to the level of the first floor.

“Staff said they had never seen any indication she had got a mobility problem and she had done the job without any problems or impediment.”

Mr Charles Hobbs, defending, said his client was “quite severely ill” when she first started claiming benefits and although her mobility had improved she was still in pain.

He added: “Yes, the job involved her being active every day and she accepts she did that.

“But the trial heard she would sometimes need to sit down and she would go to the disabled toilet to have a rest if she was struggling.”

Source: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime/2017/10/22/mcdonalds-worker-fraudulently-claimed-28k-in-disability-benefits/

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